This post is about why one should visit a conference at all and hopefully is a good read for people who haven’t been on a FOSS conference yet. For oldtimers this might be unbelieveable, but I remember perfectly how I thought “This conference sounds interesting, but its probably only for checkers, long term contributors, not for me”. Thanks god I had somebody convincing me that that’s wrong and pulled me to my first Akademy which was a great experience as well as all the other conferences I have been later.
The main thing that happens on conferences is learning. While sitting in workshops and presentations you can learn so much about technologies, and since you take the time to really listen to it, it sticks very good in your mind. If questions remain open, you can be sure to immediately find people who can help to clearify.
Learning often results in motivation because if you learned something you want to try it out. Since you again have time after the conference presentations and you are surrounded by others who are interested in the similar topics, the motivation grows to really put the hands on the keyboard and try things out.
Another motivational factor can be that people adjust your opinion about your own contribution, if you already did some. You might think your contribution is only small, not comparable and not so important. After having three people met who were thanking you for your work and telling you how important it was for them, you will feel the motivation boost. But attention – that sometimes works the other way round as well 😉
But that guides us to the most important thing: Meeting people in person, get to know each other, make friends. I know so many people from visiting conferences, and the quality of “knowing” is so much higher if a face, a smile, a good presentation or other things like funny clothes can be put to a name. Even people I do not know know me because I visited a conference once.
Working for and with people you know in person is much more pleasant as if you only know their email addresses. And we’re not talking about conflict situations which are so much easier to solve if you have met before.
Last but not least the possibility of influencing things must not be forgotten. Often on conferences things move forward, because the right people are on the same spot and discuss things and come to decisions. Believe it or not, it happens quickly that you end up in the circle of people if you want.
Ah yes, there is another reason why people like to come to conferences: It’s called ‘having fun’. I am not sure what is that about, but it must be cool 😉
Very soon the second international openSUSE Conference takes place in Nürnberg, Germany. If you are interested in the openSUSE project, the distribution or upstream projects, I really like to encourage you to conferencing give FOSS conferencing a try if you had never done it before. If you had, you will be there anyway 😉
Please do not hesitate and register now.